I just discovered a khaki green seabag outside our front door. Our son Daniel Justin told us to be on the lookout for it. He had packed it with stuff he won’t need in Afghanistan any more, which means one thing – he’s coming home soon! We will be able to see him on April 21! Of course, my fear default setting goes to “but he’ll still be there for over a month.” So keep on praying. And then I realized that it was silly to think that I would stop praying when he comes back. The enemy is everywhere – our spiritual enemy, that is.
For the second time in the same chapter in Daniel, he is told, “Do not be afraid.” Here is a man who faced hungry lions unafraid. This is what Daniel says now, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.” Again, the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. “Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” (10:17-19a)
Peace and strength – two antidotes for fear. These qualities should replace anxiety and worry. When the anguish and helpless feelings come, as they did for Daniel (and probably rightly so, given the destruction that was foretold), there is someone who can give strength. Do we ever really find it in ourselves? I could never understand the logic of pulling myself up by my bootstraps. “Believe in yourself” is a nice sentiment, but Jesus is the one who says, “Peace, be still.” When “my strength is gone and I can hardly breathe,” I will bow with my face toward the ground as Daniel did and let “the one who looked like a man” – Jesus – touch my lips.
We are now in the season of Lent and I have once again renewed my commitment to carry on. It is a constant struggle to fight distractions, excuses, etc. – “the sin that so easily besets us.” But reflection is a good thing, and as difficult as it may be, acknowledging the disobedience and failings is the first step in the renewal and purifying process. The best thing about Lent is the the goal at the end of this 40-day journey ~ EASTER! Renewed life! Because of this season and my focus on Jesus’ journey to the cross, I decided to flip forward to the New Testament and all the passages where Jesus Himself said “Be not afraid.” Beginning tomorrow….